Friday, 12 June 2009

Greater love has no man than this...

One place I love to visit when I am in London is Postman's Park, in the churchyard of St Botolph's, Aldersgate.

This is where G F Watts the Victorian painter, set up a memorial gallery just after Queen Victoria's Jubilee. He placed tablets, each describing acts of bravery that resulted in the loss of the hero or heroine's life. The tablets consist of a number of ceramic tiles, initially manufactured by William De Morgan and later by Doulton of Lambeth, with an inscription and appropriate decorative motifs.

The inscriptions are very moving - I have visited with Bob and the girls and we have read the words and pondered on the sacrifice of so many ordinary people. But for these plaques, I think they would have been forgotten by now.postmans_park_2


You can see more of the tablets here

I was reminded of this peaceful spot [which takes its name from the fact it is by the GPO and workers often used to stop for their lunch breaks here] by an article in today's Times. For the first time since 1931, a new plaque has been erected on the wall. The article said..

"At a ceremony in Postman’s Park in the heart of the City of London yesterday, a plaque was unveiled to 30-year-old Leigh Pitt, who died in June 2007 while saving a boy from drowning in a canal.

Eight decades after the last name was inscribed in 1931, Mr Pitt’s story has been added to stand alongside the heroic deeds of 53 others who lost their lives to save another. Mr Pitt, a printworker from Surrey, died after jumping into the canal at Thamesmead, in southeast London, to save the nine-year-old boy. Mr Pitt, who was there fishing, managed to keep Harley Bagnall-Taylor above water while passers-by threw a hosepipe to the child, but Mr Pitt was unable to stay afloat or find a hand-hold in the high-sided canal walls, and drowned before he himself could be saved."

I taught in Thamesmead, back in 1994/5 - and I remember reading about Mr Pitt's death two years ago. I am glad that they have put up this memorial to him.

Aldersgate is part of London steeped in history - John Foxe [the propagandist who wrote 'The Book of Martyrs'] lived here. And it is here that John Wesley found salvation and faith. Nearby is the Barbican and the museum of London. An area well worth visiting.

Watts said "The prosperity of a nation is not an abiding possession, the deeds of its people are.”

A good motto to remember in a time of recession, I think.


  1. Very moving, Angela. Thank you for a very interesting post. I'm going to tell my students about this when we study The Hero's Journey. Fascinating.

  2. Reading this post made me feel weepy. There are so many stories we don't hear or don't remember, but they deserve to be known. I'm so glad this place exists and that stories are being added!


    p.s. I keep trying to post this and it won't post. If it shows up several times, that's why!


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